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 JOAN OF ARC - SAINT OR WITCH?

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Faerielass
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PostSubject: JOAN OF ARC - SAINT OR WITCH?   Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:32 pm

It is sometimes stated that on the 30th of May 1431 the Catholic Church condemned Joan of Arc as a witch, and on the 16th of May 1920 declared her to be a saint. The conclusion is then drawn that judgements made by the Church can be very unreliable. But the history of Joan of Arc does not support the basis for this conclusion.

Joan lived during the 'Hundred Years War' between England and France and, by the time Joan became involved, all northern France had fallen into English hands. A further large area, controlled by the Duke of Burgundy, had revolted against the authority of the French king, thereby commencing a civil war.

The Burgundians made a pact with the English and fought on their side. A skilful propaganda campaign was launched, alleging that Charles, heir apparent to the French crown, was illegitimate and therefore had no right to the throne. Many people became confused by the conflicting claims and tended towards neutrality. A number of towns were unwilling to resist what appeared to be the winning side. French morale was very low, and it seemed likely that France as a distinct monarchy and nation would cease to exist.

Rheims Cathedral, the traditional site for coronations, had been captured by the English, so preventing Charles being invested. This had a further demoralising effect on the ordinary people as many felt that Charles was not fully a king until he had been crowned.

As Joan grew into her teens she developed a deep spiritual and mystical life of prayer. She claimed that the 'voices' of saints were instructing her to raise the siege of Orleans, capture Rheims and have Charles crowned as king. They also instructed her to dress as a man while carrying out this work.

Joan left home in early 1428 and, following a Church trial at Poitiers clearing her of any suspicion of witchcraft or heresy, animated Charles and the French troops with the belief that God wished them to be victorious and would help them. Joan did not take command of the army but, with Joan providing inspiring personal leadership in key places at crucial times, the French won surprising victories leading to Charles being crowned in Rheims Cathedral in July 1429.

Although Joan said that her mission was now been completed, she continued to take part in the fighting and was captured in May 1430.

The English-Burgundian forces did not deny Joan's superhuman powers, but ascribed them to the Devil. So the English commanders arranged for bishop Cauchon, who was more interested in politics than in religion, to establish a court to prove that Joan was a witch.

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